Michelin-Starred Restaurant In DC Launches Subscription Service

There's no question that the COVID-19 pandemic drastically changed the restaurant scene across America and much of the world. Dining establishments faced mandatory closures, then gradual re-openings rife with restrictions, from social distancing to capacity limits, disinfection protocols, face masks, and outdoor versus indoor dining. While most pandemic protocols have been lifted (as of February 2023), but have some practices spawned new, and potentially enduring, restaurant trends?

It would seem that way when subscription services suddenly popped up at mainstream eateries, including a Michelin-starred Washington D.C. favorite. Not all are based on home delivery or pickup, a mainstream pandemic-era "saving grace" for restaurants big, small, obscure, and world-famous. Mostly dubbed as memberships, clubs, or passes, some subscription services offer perks such as unlimited in-person drinks (Panera) or dining credits (El Lopo's Take-Care-of-Me Club in San Francisco). 

But other notable establishments provide upscale dining only through take-out or delivery subscriptions, providing an opportunity to enjoy otherwise pricey menu items from world-renowned chefs. Say hello to the Gravitas Supper Club. It provides a Gravitas meal by renowned Chef Matt Baker for two or four only once per month, and subscriptions are limited. Here's a look at fine dining in your own home courtesy of a Michelin-starred chef.

Gravitas your way -- sort of

Fine-dining aficionados in the D.C. area nod to the Ivy City for "modern American" cuisine based on seasonal ingredients and local seafood from the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Helmed by Chef Matt Baker, a native of Houston, Texas, the Gravitas restaurant features a tasting menu eating with five-course meals, as well as limited opportunities for intimate 18-course menus at the "chef's counter."

The word "exclusive" springs to mind, especially considering the cost and the creds of Chef Baker, who snagged a spot in the 2015 Zagat "Top 30 under 30" chef listings and holds Michelin stars for his Gravitas cuisine in both 2020 and 2021. But the restaurant's new subscription club pulls back the veil a bit, letting diners voyage into the universe of lauded cuisine. 

Emerging under the moniker of "Gravitas Supper Club," the club currently holds 60 members who commit to a monthly meal by Chef Matt, which is prepared to the same standards as onsite table dining. But the three-course meal is available for either free pickup up at the location on Okie Street or $15 delivery to anywhere in D.C.'s 495 Loop. But it's not just any meal; it's a set menu curated by the chef himself, and it deep-dives into a different hyper-local regional cuisine each month.

Regional food inspiration and shared insights

An Associated Press article published by NPR-affiliate WOSU reveals that Chef Matt started takeout offerings during the pandemic but watched that source of income dwindle in the face of renewed dining room meals. Now he sees the off-site supper club meals as an added way for customers to "provide a level of support and joy and love for our offerings."

After joining the Gravitas Supper Club, members pre-pay $130 a month for a three-course takeout or delivery meal for two people, or $240 for four diners. The food arrives fully prepared and ready to heat, with instructions plus a knowledge-based extra: intricate details of each dish and its inspirational ties to the regional food highlighted that month.

Focal points for the club meals are the Mid-Atlantic and American South regions, delving into cuisine from targeted communities such as the Lowcountry, Appalachian Western Virginia, Pennsylvania Dutch classics, and game dishes from the Mid-Atlantic. Add-ons include wine and cocktail pairings as well as limited sommelier-curated bottles, as allowed by alcohol delivery laws. 

The February 2023 menu for Gravitas Supper Club menu aligned with the Valentine's Day tradition and offered a Savory Éclair course with chicken liver mousse, raspberry glaze, preserved strawberry, and hazelnuts, followed by a grilled filet mignon with mushroom and Boursin dumpling, creamed broccoli, and truffle jus. The final dessert course brought things home with a guava and chocolate tart featuring guava curd, fudge brownie, and guava cream.